Yesterday, Wild Justice’s lawyers issued the claim form seeking permission for judicial review of Natural England’s decision to issue the General Licences GL04-06 on 1 January 2019.
We haven’t yet got a nice court seal on our claim form as there is a backlog, apparently. We have notified Natural England of our application for judicial review.
You may recall that we sent a Pre Action Protocol letter to NE on 13 February and they should have responded two weeks later but instead they asked for another two weeks, a doubling of the time normally allocated for such a response. We rather kindly said they could have another week but NE took two weeks to send us a confused and inadequate response.
During that four-week period we did not name NE as the public body whose decision we were challenging and nor did we indicate that the General Licences were our area of concern. We have dealt with NE with more sympathy and patience than they deserve during this period.
The NE response received on 13 March indicated that they would need to consult their Board on this matter and that would happen on 20 March and they would be in a position to respond further on 21 March.
We launched our crowdfunder on 15 March, a week ago, and have already raised over £30,000 of the £36,000 we need to take this case all the way through the courts. Thank you to all who have donated – we are touched and relieved by the level of support.
As we had not received a response from NE by 4pm yesterday we went ahead with our request for judicial review as we believe we have a very strong case and that NE are basically just mucking us about. We still have not received a response from NE but things have moved on now.
Is the statutory nature conservation agency for England about to admit that it has issued unlawful General Licences year after year? Or will we have to go to court to prove that?